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Photo Essay, Travel

Weekend Getaway: Pickle Springs, BIG Cats & Jour de Fête

“Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder”, and every once in a while I leave Washington, MO to come back with new appreciation for what we have. Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary has been on my mind ever since I found out about it more than a year ago, and since I like exploring I went to the Visitor Center and picked up some more brochures of what else is there to see in the area. {The Washington, MO Visitor Center on Front Street is a great place to get information about local and close by attractions: I know because I used to work there and I have ordered and arranged the brochures numerous times ;-)}

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You don’t have to go far to find something new and exciting 🙂

We left at noon on Saturday, and after an easy and pleasant drive (about 1 hour and 45 minutes) we found ourselves in Pickle Springs Natural Area, very close by Hawn State Park. I remember seeing pictures from the area in a book on the parks in Missouri, and the name just sounded appealing. We took the loop trail and spend some of the most amazing 2 hours hiking what used to be a shallow ocean that existed there 500 million years ago and later in time a home of mammoths. 

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The weather was just perfect – partly cloudy with sunshine peeking through the leaves of the trees. The trail was so peaceful and quiet, and the rock formations simply amazing.

“This scenic natural area contains all sorts of fascinating sandstone rock formations including box canyons and wet weather waterfalls. The sandstone rock here is the Lamotte sandstone that was formed from sandy beaches of a shallow ocean that existed here 500 million years ago. Since then layers of limestone were buried upon this sandstone but millions of years of erosion and uplift of the Ozark plateau have exposed the sandstone we see today. Over the eons, ice, rain, wind, plant roots, and streams have worn away this sandstone to form the many unique geologic features here. Some of the interesting geologic features include a double arch that holds up a shelf of sandstone, narrow slot-like canyons, hoodoos (mound or pillar-like sandstone blocks weathered into unusual shapes), a spring flowing out of sandstone (Pickle Springs), and sandstone talus slopes.” Read more here. 

Pickle Springs

Pickle Springs

Pickle Springs

Pickle Springs

Pickle Springs

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Pickle Springs

After exploring this wonderful natural area, we headed to Crown Country, where we checked into our room at the Coffman House, very close by the Crown Valley Winery and  Crown Valley Brewery. The hills, fields and vineyards were beautiful to drive through, and the place where we stayed at was right between Ste. Genevieve and Farmington. We opted for dinner at downtown Farmington and happened to stumble upon what seemed to be the only restaurant in the area: 12 West Bar & Grill. The atmosphere appealed to us right away and the food did not disappoint. No pictures from dinner  – I restrained myself 😉 The drive back to the Coffman house was lit by the full moon and enveloped by enchanting haze.

This is where we had dinner - photo from their website {http://www.12westbarandgrill.com}.

This is where we had dinner – photo from their website {http://www.12westbarandgrill.com}.

Day 2 of the weekend getaway was devoted to Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary and Ste. Genevieve. After a complimentary breakfast at Tiger Ridge Restaurant, we were ready for the Early Bird Tour at the Sanctuary. Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non profit big cat rescue facility, licensed by USDA. They provide permanent lifelong care for abused, neglected, and unwanted big cats.  We were amazed to learn how many people keep tigers as pets and how they are still allowed to have them as circus animals around the United States. The Sanctuary is a home of four tigers and one lioness. We were able to get up close and personal with the animals and observe them as they proceeded with their morning routine in their spacious enclosures. 

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Suvarna, Crown Ridge's most recent rescue, LOVES swimming in his pool.

Suvarna, Crown Ridge’s most recent rescue, LOVES swimming in his pool.

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"Unlike the other cats at Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary, Izzy was used as a “photo cat” in a carnival. He was used as a “prop” to take pictures with the public. Learn more about the dangers of cub petting. Once Izzy was three months old he was too big and too dangerous for his job, so the carnival was just going to euthanize him. Luckily we were able to bring Izzy to the sanctuary where he is now part of our family. Ironically, he is the largest and youngest tiger at the sanctuary!  As a Siberian tiger, the largest subspecies of tiger, he weighs over 500 pounds!" http://crownridgetigers.com/izzy-crown-ridge-tiger-sanctuary

“Unlike the other cats at Crown Ridge Tiger Sanctuary, Izzy was used as a “photo cat” in a carnival. He was used as a “prop” to take pictures with the public. Learn more about the dangers of cub petting.
Once Izzy was three months old he was too big and too dangerous for his job, so the carnival was just going to euthanize him. Luckily we were able to bring Izzy to the sanctuary where he is now part of our family. Ironically, he is the largest and youngest tiger at the sanctuary! As a Siberian tiger, the largest subspecies of tiger, he weighs over 500 pounds!”  {http://crownridgetigers.com/izzy-crown-ridge-tiger-sanctuary}

The lioness, Alexis, has a crush on Izzy ;-)

The lioness, Alexis, has a crush on Izzy 😉

How much sweeter can this get?

How much sweeter can this get? 🙂

Alexis like sot play with "toys" made by volunteers.

Alexis likes to play with “toys” made by volunteers.

Thor and Gracie are sisters and they are he only ones sharing an exclosure. The platform they are sleeping on was built by a local engineer who volunteers at the Sanctuary.

Thor and Gracie are sisters and they are the only ones sharing an enclosure. The platform they are sleeping on was built by a local engineer who volunteers at the Sanctuary.

It was sambaing to be so up close and personal with the big cats and to hear their story.

It was amazing to be so up close and personal with the big cats and to hear their story.

Visting the Crown Ridge Sanctuary is absolutely safe and a very pleasant experience.

Visiting the Crown Ridge Sanctuary is absolutely safe and a very pleasant experience I highly recommend. You can volunteer there, donate meat for the animals or other useful items, or adopt a big cat. 

The grounds also offer lodging opportunities where you cans pend a night in tiger territory with an amazing view of the area.

The grounds also offer lodging opportunities where you can spend a night in tiger territory with an amazing view of the area.

After spending time with the beautiful big cats, we headed to Ste. Genevieve where they happened to have their annual craft festival Jour de Fête. The historic streets were lined with craft vendor booths, there was music everywhere, and delicious festival food. We enjoyed watching some old-time trades, indulged in burgers and fries served by the local Lions Club, made friends with some pretty kitty cats and stumbled upon a wonderful wildlife display by the World Bird Sanctuary.

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Exploring Ste. Genevieve was a delight and around 1:30pm we decided to head back to Washington, MO happy with the way our weekend trip had gone. You get 24 hours in a day, and you decide how to spend them 😉 As I tell my photography students, “Dream. Discover. Explore.”

 

 Useful Sources: 

http://crowncountrylodging.com/directions-crown-valley

http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places-go/natural-areas/pickle-springs

http://crowncountry.com

https://www.facebook.com/historicsaintegenevieve

http://www.12westbarandgrill.com

http://crownridgetigers.com/crown-ridge-tiger-sanctuary-tours

http://saintegenevievejourdefete.com

http://www.worldbirdsanctuary.org/index.php

 

Have you visited any of these places? Share your experience in the comments below! 🙂

About Slava

I am a twenty-something Bulgarian girl in the USA, re-discovering the world through the lens.

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  1. Pingback: 31 and Happy: Trips and Big Cats Make Me Smile | Slava Bowman Photography - August 12, 2014

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